1. Catholic Online – Islamic terrorists linked with ISIS who have overrun Marawi City in the Philippines are using Christians as sex slaves and human shields. The terrorists are from the Maute group and have sworn allegiance to ISIS. The terrorists overran the city of 200,000 people over a month ago, and they are now being pushed out by the Philippine Army. The systematic counterattack has reduced the terrorists to holding just a few city blocks. Within that shrinking space, the terrorists are rumored to have 100 Christian hostages which they are using as human shields. They are also forcing women to serve as sex slaves. Survivors report men are forced to act as mules, carrying wounded fighters on their backs to safety.
2. Reuters – After eight months of grinding urban warfare, Iraqi government troops on Thursday captured the ruined mosque at the heart of Islamic State’s de facto capital Mosul, and the prime minister declared the group’s self-styled caliphate at an end. Iraqi authorities expect the long battle for Mosul to end in coming days as remaining Islamic State fighters are bottled up in just a handful of neighborhoods of the Old City. The seizure of the nearly 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri Mosque — from where Islamic State proclaimed the caliphate nearly three years ago to the day — is a huge symbolic victory.
3. CP – A federal appellate court has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged a North Carolina law that grants religious freedom exemptions to government officials who refuse to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies on grounds that it would violate their religious beliefs. In June 2015, lawmakers in North Carolina overrode former Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto and enacted a law that protected magistrates who feel it would violate their religious beliefs to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies by giving them the option to recuse themselves from participating in any marriage ceremony for a six-month period. The law came after a federal court struck down the state’s ban against same-sex marriage in 2014. If there isn’t a magistrate in a county willing to perform same-sex marriages, the law, known as SB 2, calls for a willing magistrate in another county to be brought in to conduct marriages.
4. BP – Mark Harris, a pastor and past president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, has drawn media focus for his decision to resign his pastorate as he considers a second run for Congress. The Charlotte Observer, local television stations and Charlotte’s largest talk radio station are among the media outlets to report on Harris’ June 11 resignation from a 12-year pastorate at First Baptist Church in Charlotte, which averages 700-800 in Sunday morning worship. Harris told Baptist Press his decision stemmed from a sense of calling to politics and his awareness of “a distinct need” for pastors “not just to take a position on the sideline” of American public life, “but to get engaged.”
5. Reuters – Congolese security forces and a militia fighting them have killed at least 3,383 people in the central Kasai region since October, the Catholic church said on Tuesday, in the most detailed report to date on the violence. Church officials, citing their own sources in the remote territory bordering Angola, said the army had destroyed 10 villages as it sought to stamp out an insurrection. They also accused the Kamuina Nsapu militia of killing hundreds of people, destroying four villages and attacking church property in a campaign to drive out central government troops.